It is natural that counseling professionals have a probability of encountering persons with whom they have had personal relationships in the course of executing their duties. The fact raises a lot of questions regarding the involvement of therapists with close persons. There are situations when counselors have been successful in doing therapy to their close friends especially if the therapist and the patient live in a big town. However, negative implications have been significant on many occasions.
A therapist cannot provide his/her services to a patient with whom he/she has had a personal relationship because it is against the fundamental rule in psychotherapy. The rule states that there should be no relationship with the patient outside the consulting room and objectivity and neutrality should be maintained towards the patient. A therapeutic relationship should not be a friendship because the therapist and the patient should not have a relationship outside the consulting room. There is a danger of a therapy session not being effective because if a patient is a close friend to the therapist, it means he/she understands the traits of the therapist. For instance, a patient can know that the therapist doesn’t like people who lie in a relationship, if the patient has not been faithful to his/her partner, then the information cannot be easily given to the counseling profession. Since the therapist only works with the information at hand, then the amount of help is limited. The disadvantage with friendship is that both parties regularly share who they are and that is why it may be a disaster for therapy to provide services to a close person. A therapist also tends to be biased in friend and family relationships, and thus they have difficulty in being objective in their profession. Hence, therapists should avoid scenarios where therapy goals and success may be hindered.
Given the fact that there is the impossibility of perfection in the counselling profession, there are a lot of negative implications posed to clients as a result of violations by therapists. Regularly, ethical violations can be difficult to identify, and clients should be keen to notice the loopholes. Since there are no perfect ways of doing therapy, professionals should do everything to protect every person who gets their services. However, to balance punishment vs rehabilitation by considering the harm that clients may be exposed to, as a member of the board, I will base my decisions on the complaints received from clients. Therefore, clients should be motivated to give an honest report to the organization for any legal actions to be taken in advance. If the report received from the client shows that there are some minor mistakes from the therapist, then the therapist shall be notified of the difficulty the client is undergoing, and the board shall give suggestions to improve the situation. For instance, if the therapy commits minor errors while doing therapy, the errors can violate a patient, but it may not attract charges against the therapists.
If the complaints show some serious issues with the therapists, then punishment is considered. Violations such as practising sexual relationship with clients and encouraging harmful activities such as crime should lead to automatic loss of license and possible legal actions against the therapists. Therapists should not be given a second chance if they commit severe violations because the outcomes are disastrous to both the clients and the society. Minor mistakes can be unintentional or due to inadequate training and such errors can be pardoned.
However, frequent minor mistakes should not be tolerated as it encourages laxity in the profession; warnings should be given to such therapists. The counselling profession should be given the seriousness it deserves.